The Grand Canyon and Route 66

Getting off the train in Flagstaff on a cold, clear night, Janie met me to begin our road trip to Portland. We started off in the morning with a big breakfast in a diner on Route 66 right up the street. I love diners and being on Route 66 is a hoot. I’m writing from Boulder City, Nevada just up the road from the Hoover Dam. On the way here we stopped in Seligman, Arizona where we ate in a diner from the heyday of Route 66. There were a group of motorcyclists there who were doing the whole route from Chicago to L.A. They were from Australia, Russia, France, Slovakia, Italy,and the U.S. Clearly, the history and culture of Route 66 spans international boundaries.

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After a cheese burger and some photo ops, we moved on down the road to Kingman.

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Kingman has a Route 66 museum which was very interesting, chronicling the road from the days as an Indian trail, through the dust bowl migrations of the 30’s and into the days of diners and good music in the 50’s.

But what about the Grand Canyon? I had been to the North Rim several years ago but the South Rim is a whole different story. Staying in a lodge near the rim, we had a chance to see it in many different times of day,from the early light in the morning,to the full moon of the evening. We also saw it from many different vantage points,walking about 10 miles total along the Rim Trail. It never failed to impress and overwhelm me with the size, (277 miles long, 10 miles wide), the colors and the geological formations.

On Sunday morning, coincidentally my birthday, we had a perfect day. It started cold and clear about 25 degrees but warmed up to a gorgeous blue sky 50’s. We got an early start hiking down into the Canyon on the Bright Angel trail. There are warnings all over the place reminding people that it usually takes twice as long to ascend as it does to descend into the Canyon. We were also warned to bring more food and water than you would think you would need as people die every year when they find themselves overwhelmed by the hiking there. We conservatively decided to hike down to the 1 1/2 mile rest point. It was a good choice. We were fortunate to be there off season so we saw few people and had the luxury of experiencing the Canyon on our own. The trail wound down along the edge with a couple of tunnels cut through the rock. We kept stopping to look around and pinch ourselves,seeing where we were.

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The way up was faster and not nearly as hard as we had assumed it would be. Since we were out before noon, we had plenty of time to hike out toward Hermit’s Rest on the RimTrail. The vistas continued to change and amaze as we walked along the various points along the way. We found several places to stop and pause for a snack or water break and saw very few people away from the bustle near the lodges. The whole Grand Canyon for a birthday present- what a gift!

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For my birthday dinner, we splurged on dinner at El Tovar, a beautiful old lodge right on the edge of the Canyon. My dessert came on a special plate:

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The next morning, we drove out to see one more vista of the Canyon before we started our drive to Nevada. Along with the Route 66 experience, we continued to ooh and ahh our way west as the scenery shifted from flat desert to craggy peaked mountains in the distance. I can’t imagine how the early pioneers must have felt seeing them blocking their way to California. As we neared the Nevada line (a new state for me), the rounded desert mountains enveloped us and suddenly we were crossing the Colorado River at the Hoover Dam.

We spent the night at a historic hotel, The Boulder Dam hotel, built for the supervisors and dignitaries who supervised the construction of the dam. Around the corner is a quaint, desert downtown,with lots of shops and restaurants. We had huge salads and a martini for dinner (Monday is Martini night at Milo’s). We scoped out a hotel online for our time in Las Vegas and got ready for our rafting trip down the Colorado River just south of the Hoover Dam. Blue skies and warm temps in the 80’s ahead. Life is good here in Nevada this morning.

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1 Comment

  1. So fun to read about. I’ve been down that same trail (Bright Angel) about the same distance. Yes, wonderful!

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